Among the wonders of Christmas, and a source of enjoyment to all, are the multitude and variety of lights that adorn streets, buildings, yards and homes. I remember the decorating of my family tree as a child. We had strings of multicolored bulbs and bubble lights. But the light at the top of the tree, in the center of a foil star, was white. That was the star for the Christ child.
It is appropriate to celebrate the birth of the Savior with lights. In the scriptures we read, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Jesus said of himself, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
Howard W. Hunter, 14th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explained that “to be a light is to be an exemplar — one who sets an example and is a model for others to follow.”
Not only did Christ tell us he is the light, but he directed his disciples to follow him and do the things that they saw him do. Peter said, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21
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Speaking to a group of disciples in the New World, Jesus asked, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” Not awaiting their response, he answered his own question: “Even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27). ) By studying the scriptures we learn of him and what he would have us do.
And what he would have us do is also be a light to the world.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “Ye are the light of the world.” He then said, “Let your light so shine before me, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:4,6).
Every person is given the Light of Christ, or our conscience, when we come to this earth. That light needs both to be maintained and brightened. As we follow the inner light that God has given us, and the example of his son, Jesus Christ, we become more like him.
“One of the best ways to gain light,” according to Elder Larry R. Lawrence, “is to learn to love as our Father in Heaven does. Such love is called charity.” If we learn to love the Lord, and put him first in our lives, the reward is great. Jesus taught, “If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light” (D&C 88:67)
If we keep the second commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, we gain additional light. Loving our neighbor is not as easy, perhaps, as loving God, because our neighbors are not perfect. Elder Lawrence says that the real secret for learning to love others is found in serving them. “The more you serve, the more you love, and the more you love, the more light you receive.”
There are many ways our light can be nourished and strengthened. A poem by Rosemary Noble Palmer, entitled Filling the Lamp, suggests simple steps, including:
“One thought at a time, One good deed at a time, One prayer, one smile. One scripture memorized and applied in daily life. …One obedient act. …One day lived joyously. One courageous choice. One duty done well and promptly. …One mistake fixed. One offense forgiven. One grateful expression. One kindness shown. …”
“While it is a beautiful sight to see the lights of Christmas … , it is more important to have human lives illuminated by an acceptance of him who is the light of the world” said President Hunter. “Truly we should hold him up as our guide and exemplar.”
Each day, one step at a time, we can pattern our lives after the example of the Savior, the light of the world. As we accumulate more light in our spirits, we reflect his light to the world.
Glenna M. Christensen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.